I wanted to put a Wabi-Sabi component into the pattern. Wabi-Sabi only exists predicated on beautiful mistakes, unplanned outcomes, imperfections, and organic chaos. The only part (as I currently understand Wabi-Sabi) I got right was associating bamboo as a symbol for the organic aspect of this aesthetic concept. Bamboo grows into plants as diverse each from the other as one snowflake is unique from all others. There are infinite minute differences between each plant, each stalk, and each leaf. Only after doing this experiment did I realize that using a stencil is the exact opposite to Wabi-Sabi… almost.

The stencil allows us to reproduce the same shapes in an infinite quantity. If we are very careful, the colours and textures can be reproduced nearly-exactly each time to eliminate almost all perceptible variations. NOT WABI-SABI AT ALL!!! What was I thinking? Well, I was thinking that I could add variations in the inks and mess things up a little. I thought I could purposefully control the happenstance effects. Then, during a class critique to satisfy the teacher’s question about what my motivation was, I could B.S. my answer about how bamboo symbolizes Wabi-Sabi, because I love Wabi-Sabi… blah, blah, blah… YIKES!!!

It turns out that on the final piece, these stencils were the most consistent prints… yes, there were some errors and I let them be. When the mistakes occurred (blotches of ink, a dropped sponge full of ink, etc…) I told myself it was ok; It was Wabi-Sabi. BUT, it really frustrated me when they happened! Reflecting on this frustration made me realize it was because it wasn’t Wabi-Sabi; it wasn’t spontaneous; it wasn’t trusting the process, my instincts, the materials, and the universal muse. I was frustrated by the need to use the tools with technical perfection, rather than be true to the nature of my practice. That brought back the flood of anger (as expressed in yesterday’s post) about feeling I had to show technical perfection for the evaluation; not the joy of experimentation. Sorry, I’m obviously very angry about this, still.

Back to Wabi-Sabi… near the last two prints (on the right) I started mixing up the inks and seeing what might happen. It felt better. My realization is that I don’t enjoy making with a definition in mind; I am only happy knowing that each piece is finished, but the exploration is still ongoing. If I feel the exploration doesn’t need to continue, it’s because I didn’t enjoy that techniques and I need to put it aside until it filters up again in a more instinctive and organic way… usually in a completely unrelated material exploration. I really feel no technique or image is ever lost; it only needs time to make a connection to whatever might be working on.


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